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Letter: North Dakota way rejects all forms of discrimination

Discrimination is not a North Dakota value. Plain and simple.

We do not value our friends being fired for reasons having nothing to do with job performance; we do not value our family members being turned away from housing opportunities; and we do not value our neighbors being unable to seek aid from the Department of Labor should discrimination occur.

It’s this very reason that SB 2279 was introduced for the third time in the state Senate.

We do value the chance for North Dakotans to not just get a job but to become part of thriving communities that provide culture, creativity and acceptance; we value North Dakota remaining a hub for business and retaining a talented workforce, and we value hard work and talent. By passing SB 2279, we can perpetuate those values and send the message to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Dakotans that they can be honest about who they are and whom they call family, without the fear of losing their job or housing.

Three weeks ago, a phone survey conducted by DFM Research of 400 North Dakota residents over the age of 18 found that 68 percent of North Dakotans would support SB 2279 had they the chance to cast a vote. Additionally, 63 percent of self-identified independents and 65 percent of those who consider themselves moderate, regardless of party, support this legislation.

These North Dakotans are joined by the cities of Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota State University Student Senate, NDSU Faculty Senate, the University of North Dakota Student Senate, the state Board of Higher Education, North Dakota AFL-CIO, N.D. United, N.D. Association of Realtors, N.D. Human Rights Coalition, N.D. Women’s Network, ACLU of North Dakota and faith leaders from throughout the state.

Our colleagues cannot bury their heads in the sand and continue to be naïve that discrimination against LGBT North Dakotans does not occur. While we know that the majority of businesses and landlords in our state do not discriminate, it has long been the argument of the opposition that it is in fact, their right to discriminate in whom they hire, rent to, or even provide service to in facilitating commerce.

Now it is the state’s turn to ensure that our LGBT family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors are judged by the content of their character, not whom they love or call family. That is a true North Dakota value.

Nelson, D-Fargo, represents District 21 in the North Dakota Senate. Boschee, D-Fargo, represents District 44 in the North Dakota House.

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